Most of the international criticism directed at Hungary over the past nine years has focused on domestic indicators such as the rule of law, separation of powers and press freedom. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been remarkably blunt about his designs for Hungary, citing China, Russia and Turkey as models. After an election in April widely deemed free but not fair, he sounded a triumphal note, declaring that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
Since Orban won reelection, however, his behavior has called into question not only his democratic bona fides, but also his basic trustworthiness as an ally of the United States and member of the democratic Western world. Increasingly, Hungary is behaving like a rogue state.
Consider the actions that Orban and his Fidesz Party government have taken in the past few weeks. Last month, at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, the Hungarian envoy did his best to sabotage any improvement in relations between the Western alliance and Ukraine. As its excuse the Budapest government is using a recent language-law reform in Ukraine that allegedly threatens the Hungarian-speaking minority. By exploiting such a frivolous issue to obstruct NATO support for Ukraine—whose land Russia seized in the first armed territorial annexation on the European continent since World War II—Hungary is doing Moscow’s bidding.